I don’t know who I’d be without East Campus

[This is written all at once and unedited. Apologies for typoes]

I don’t know who I’d be without East Campus.

I had so much to work through coming in, a sheltered kid from single sex Catholic school, no idea what I wanted to be, struggling with mental illness I hadn’t yet identified. The community I found in East Campus was everything I needed. I was challenged and supported. I was encouraged to explore and given reality checks when I needed them. I did things I never thought I’d do, and I loved them. I met the person that I married a week ago. I avoided needing to be hospitalized when I was having medication problems because I did have a community that would take care of me around the clock for a couple days (I just needed people keeping an eye on me, a hospital would only have been stressful.)

It was rough at times. We were passionate, and we fought, and a lot of us were dealing with some rough things, but we all made it, and I’m a better person for it. I saw people at their best and their worst and I appreciated them for the mad, sad, wild geniuses they were. Without my community, I *never* would have graduated –  I would have moved back in with my parents and gotten a degree somewhere else, instead of working my ass off to get readmitted. When I came back, my old cohort had all graduated, and I wound up spending my time at Random Hall, being part of another community that made me a better person. I hope I was able to pass on some wisdom as someone who’d been around the MIT block, but regardless, they were great for me. It’s really hard coming back after a few years off (I was even in a support group for it), but the continuity of East Side culture was amazing for me. I know from that support group that I had it easier than other people, having a community to be part of even though I lived in an apartment in Somerville.

I started at MIT fourteen years ago, and graduated five years ago. It was the hardest thing I ever did, and the best thing I ever did. When I was a freshman I used to think a lot about the alternate universe where I went to Cornell, where I expected to go until I got my surprising MIT admission, but after a year or two I literally couldn’t imagine it anymore, couldn’t imagine who I would be. My wedding last week wasn’t all MIT people, there were lots of family, and lots of friends I’ve made in the Boston area who aren’t directly related to MIT, but I know I wouldn’t have met most (all?) of them if I hadn’t gone to MIT. I wouldn’t be the person I am today, and that would be terrible.

I can’t imagine my life without East Campus. All my life I felt like a weirdo, a freak, desperate to find anyone else who would support me being myself and now what society said to be. I found that at MIT, and I hope that generations of undergrads will keep finding that after me.